Manchester attack: Albert Square 'vigil of peace'

People gather ahead of a vigil in Albert Square, Manchester Image copyright PA
Image caption Twenty-two people have been confirmed dead in the attack

Thousands of people have gathered at a vigil in Albert Square to remember people who lost their lives in the Manchester Arena attack.

Twenty-two people were killed and 59 injured when a suicide bomber struck at an Ariana Grande gig on Monday night.

A minute's silence was held as crowds spilled out on to nearby roads.

Lord Mayor of Manchester, Eddy Newman, began the vigil by thanking the emergency services, which prompted huge applause.

He said: "The people of Manchester will remember the victims forever and we will defy the terrorists by working together to create cohesive, diverse communities that are stronger together.

"We are the many, they are the few."

Image caption Thousands packed into Albert Square to pay their respects

The Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Rev David Walker, lit a candle at the vigil, which began at 18:00 BST.

Senior figures including Home Secretary Amber Rudd, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Speaker John Bercow joined Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham on stage.

Greater Manchester Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said he was heartened to hear the acts of kindness from emergency service workers and normal people.

He said: "The people of Greater Manchester showed the people of the world how much we care, how much we care about one another, and how much we care for those in need."

He also thanked "the rest of the world for holding us in their thoughts".

Image copyright PA
Image caption Former England cricket captain Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff joined the crowd for the vigil
Image copyright PA
Image caption People have left flowers in St Ann's Square in Manchester city centre

Tony Lloyd, former Police and Crime Commissioner and interim mayor for Greater Manchester, said: "We're not going to accept evil acts dividing us.

"You can see throngs of people have come out to pay their respects... but in the end it's the resolution that says 'we're not prepared to be divided'."

Mr Lloyd said "we pride ourselves on our diversity" and that diversity can not be "challenged by one evil individual".

"We'll get through this because that is the spirit of Manchester."

At the scene: Chris Long, BBC News Online

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Media captionIt was so shocking to watch it unfold on TV and know that you had been there

Less than 24 hours after the worst terrorist attack in Manchester's history, its people came together to remember the 22 victims who went to enjoy one of the city's favourite pastimes - going to a gig - but never came home.

Basked in early evening sunshine, the mood in Albert Square was sombre but strong. Manchester is a city of glorious, rebellious positivity and thousands were here to make that point in front of the world's press.

While some had come to simply pay their respects to those killed and injured by an appalling act, others also wanted to stand firm in the face of horror.

More: Thousands turn out for vigil of defiance

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Media captionManchester nurse wanted to show solidarity with fellow Mancunians

Members of the Manchester Sikh Community were providing free refreshment, having arrived in Albert Square singing and receiving a round of applause.

They said they will be giving out food "to help the city at a time when things are bad".

Image caption Members of the Manchester Sikh community set up a stall giving free drinks to those at the vigil

Lu Bowen, 40, brought flowers to lay as a mark of respect, and said it has been a "horrific" day but said she wanted to show a sense of "solidarity and commitment that Manchester always has".

Standing alongside her teenage daughter Lucy, she said: "We watched it all unfold last night.

"When the chips are down, Manchester always pulls together."

Image caption Africa Hart made a banner depicting a worker bee - a symbol of Manchester

Africa Hart, 25, from Manchester, said she and her friends wanted to attend the vigil to show solidarity and demonstrate that "love trumps hate."

Roads around Albert Square will be closed from 17:00 BST until about 19:00 BST.

Image copyright Arj Singh/PA
Image caption A message of defiance was written on the pavement in Albert Square
Image copyright PA
Image caption A busker sang songs of defiance in Piccadilly Gardens

Vigils were also held in cities across the UK, including in Belfast and Glasgow where people held posters which said: "We stand together. Manchester."

Image caption A vigil was held at Carfax Tower in Oxford
Image caption At a Birmingham vigil Carol Cockerill, daughter Lauren, and Barbara Anderson said they wanted to show solidarity with Manchester

Barbara Anderson, 66, said she attended a vigil in Birmingham with her daughter Carol Cockerill and granddaughter Lauren.

"I was gutted when I heard the news - we have family in Manchester and I needed to make sure they were safe," Ms Anderson said.

However, the event was cut short when police arrested a man.

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Media captionPolice arrested a man at a vigil in Birmingham

Superintendent Andy Parsons said: "The man was carrying a bag, and as a precaution Victoria Square where the vigil was being held was cleared for around 15 minutes.

"A small axe was recovered along with a large stick."

Image caption Armed officers patrolled at Newcastle's Monument

Hundreds of people gathered at Newcastle's Monument in a vigil for people of "all faiths or none".

Northumbria Police said there was no specific threat to the city, but had put extra armed officers on the streets to reassure the public.

Newcastle Council leader Nick Forbes said the Manchester attack "could have happened in any of our cities".

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